Lonwabo Tsotsobe a South Africa A press conference.
(Lee Warren/Gallo Images)
Cricket for Social Justice and Nation-building transformation ombudsman Dumisa Ntsebeza said the match-fixing part of the hearings may have been a red herring.Ntsebeza said this during an interaction with the South African Cricketer’s Association chief executive officer Andrew Breetzke.On Wednesday, Breetzke was testifying on behalf of the cricketer’s trade union.Cricket South Africa’s Cricket for Social Justice and Nation-building transformation ombudsman Dumisa Ntsebeza admitted that the match-fixing testimonies have become a red herring for the commission.
This sentiment was shared when South African Cricketer’s Association (SACA) chief executive officer Andrew Breetzke testified on Thursday about how distant he and the cricketer’s trade union was from the investigation.
Ntsebeza had listened to the testimonies of Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Alviro Petersen, Thami Tsolekile and Ethy Mbhalati, who are all serving various bans for their roles in the 2015 Ram Slam match-fixing scandal.
The quartet cited various issues with how they were treated and how they were racially targeted by CSA’s anti-corruption chief Louis Cole and David Becker, who was the independent, external legal representative who assisted Cole in the investigation.
Ntsebeza said he was mandated to listen to their stories in order to sift whether they’d been badly treated, but that may not be the case at the end of the day.
“Even with the players, I sought to communicate that there was a time and a place and as per my mandate, this wasn’t the place for them to talk about match-fixing,” Ntsebeza said.
“I was alarmed that half of the presentations made before us and I asked myself where is this going to?
“I’m not going to spend a lot of time on it as my gut feeling is that I allowed a runaway horse to get out of the stable.
“It’s like it’s a red herring. It has taken my concentration off what should be my mandate.”
Breetzke said the match-fixing matter had him concerned about the well-being of those involved and that it was a difficult time for cricket in South Africa.
“I have never wanted to speak on the corruption investigation because it was an immense amount of work and it was a difficult time for cricket in South Africa,” Breetzke said.
“The statements made by the players on Robert Marawa’s radio show and at the SJN have been personally difficult for me.
“I don’t think anything can be gained from the players engaging in these narratives because they are still at risk of criminal prosecution.
“I hoped that time would obliterate the afflictions of opinions, but that hasn’t happened and I only heard the merits of the cases for the first time in these hearings.
“Even the video that Cole played, it was the first time I watched it and it was difficult for me from a wellbeing perspective of the players.”
Breetzke said the revelations that came out of the SJN hearings and Marawa’s show not only damaged the integrity of the investigations, but saw players question why R450 000 was spent on legal fees for the match-fixers.
“We spent over R450 000 on their legal fees and those were monies that were meant for player bursaries and player education,” Breetzke said.
“They paid the legal of players, who by their own admission, had committed offences. Our concern was that other players would be upset with us.
“In subsequent player education sessions, players have taken us on and asked why paid the monies for the players? They betrayed us.
“As a result, we’ve urgently had to redo our training because the submission that came through the SJN and the Marawa show have undermined the gravity of anti-corruption efforts.”